A new challenge

Every so often my academic life gets a little challenging. I’m not talking about taking on too much because I am unable to say no because trust me, I know how to say no. I’m not talking about the social aspect (What are parties) lol. I’m not even talking about having a new roommate though I hear that can certainly be challenging.

I’m talking about being given an assignment that you’ve never heard of and not knowing how you’re going to complete it. For me such an assignment came this semester. I have to complete something called a reading inventory. Apparently it’s a book of tests that you have to give to a student that you pull out of class. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand how to give it. The problem is that I’m not sure how I’m going to give it.

Let me explain. In order to give this reading test to the student one has to be able to read along while observing how they read (mistakes, skip over words, put in new words, look at you for help etc). The problem is that I can’t read it (I have a screen reader). The problem is that I can’t read with a screen reader and listen to someone talk/read at the same time. This is definitely where a braille display (that I don’t have) could come in handy.

my question

Have you done anything like this before without a braille display? How? Do you have any suggestions I can use for this and any future assignments? if so, they’d be greately appreciated.

Thanks for reading!

Do you have any questions for me regarding college?

I just spent a good five minutes at least trying to think of something to write about for Monday (today). The only thing I can come up with is to ask you if you have any questions about college. Maybe you’re new to the whole college thing, or maybe you just have a question for me. Whatever it is ask me and I might be able to answer the question in the next blog post. Please keep in mind that I’m not an expert in all things college and anything I might say is either my opinion or gained through my experience. Yours may be completely different from mine and that’s okay. Send your questions to my twitter

It doesn’t have to be about the admissions process the questions can be about the availability of braille, screen readers, or textbooks and so on. I can’t answer questions about dorm living though. I’ve never actually lived in a dorm. Have a great day and thanks for reading this.

Fafsa: Financial aid

When I first started at the first college I had to fill out fafsa so that I could be eligible for financial aid. Which can include grants and scholarships through this website and had to be completed before the beginning of every semester. However, I was convinced that a screen reader wouldn’t work well with it. I was convinced that it would get hung up somewhere between the questions and the edit boxes, that it would just stop reading, or that it would get stuck somewhere on the application. Thus, causing me to forcefully shut down my computer, lose all my data, and have to start all over again. Hey! I’ve seen government run websites before. They’re not always the best for accessibility especially where screen readers are concerned. So I had the financial aid office at my college do it for me.

Imagine my surprise a semester or so ago when I discovered that it was fully accessible. (The new college I’d started attending was no where near me so I had no choice except to find out whether it was or not.) No hang ups, no getting stuck, and no not reading what was on the screen. No sighted help needed. Yay for that! That was a relief.

So if you’re going into college for the first time, are returning back to college, or like me never had to do it until now I want you to know that it works. At least with NVDA. I don’t have any other screen reader to test it with so if it doesn’t work with something please let me know. The questions are easy as long as you don’t let them overwhelm you. You can get a bunch of information from a previous application, or you can just start a new one. However you choose to do it please remember to read all the questions carefully before answering. Good luck!

My classes this past semester have(mostly) been online; some tips from me.

Yes as the title above suggests all of my classes except for one this past semester have been online. Here are some tips I’ve learned from that experience. I hope they can help you

2. Since the instructor/professor can’t see you because it’s an online class email them asap to alert them of your disabilities. During the first part of the semester (the semester was split into two 8 week periods with certain classes the first section and the rest on the last.) During the first 8-week period I had to take an english class. Midway through it finally occured to me to email the professor and tell him that I couldn’t see to make sure my papers were properly formatted. I then explained about my disability, the screen reader I used, and anything else I thought might be useful. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

3. If someone corrects you in a duscussion forum about their name, which you mispelled, take it in stride. During that same english class I typed an m instead of an n at the end of someone’s name. They corrected me, I explained that I’d thought my screen reader was saying m instead of n and that I was very sorry. I also told them that people actually miss-pronounce my last name so I know how they felt. I think it helped.

4. Make sure every feature they’re going to use is accessible. I thought I had done that with my online orientation class, but apparently I’d neglected to check something. That something was whether or not the “Attach a file” thing in the discussion board was accessible. Bad news! It wasn’t so I had to have sighted help.

That’s all I can think of for now, but if I think of anything else I’ll be sure to either write another post, or add to this one. Thanks for reading! I hope you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

You don't look blind.

On my first day of class I walked in, and sat down. The teacher started lecturing on the first day’s lesson. Everything was going fine.

There was a slight hick-up on the way to the college when I realized that I’d forgotten my digital voice recorder. However, I remembered that I could record the lecture on my Iphone. So, for that moment at least it was fine.

I was sitting there staring at the white board in front of me. I could see that it was the white board because it looked different from the wall. Plus the teacher would occasionally stand in front of it. Occasionally when she stood there I could hear the sound the marker makes when someone’s writing on a white board. I was doing my best to pay attention to what the teacher was saying.

Then, the teacher asked for us to get into groups. She said that was the way we were going to work out problems in her class. Fine with me! So, we all get into groups, and start working on whatever problem we were assigned.

After about five minutes the teacher gets our attention again. She tells us that one of us is to introduce each member of our group. Then, explain how we got the answer we did.

I’m not quite sure how this occurred, but at some point the instructor started working out a problem on the board. She asked if we could all see it, and I whisper to my scribe that I can’t see what’s on the board I tell him that I’m also confused because I don’t know what’s on the board. So, he starts reading it to me.

I’m going to pause in my story, and say Teachers, instructors, and professors. Please for the love of your job tell the blind student what you’re writing on the board. Practice what you’re reading out loud before you have them in class if you have too. But please tell them what you’re writing. We need to know this information just as badly as our sighted peers.

So, back to the story. One of the girls looks over at my scribe, and says something to him that I don’t hear. He responds with “I’m telling her what’s on the board.” The girl says: “Why?” My scribe says:” “Because she can’t see.” Girl: *probably says something about moving.* Scribe: “No really. She can’t see. She’s blind.” Girl: “Really?” Scribe: “Yeah.” Girl: “Are you serious?” Scribe: “Yeah.” Girl: “That’s cool!” Girl to me: “Are you really blind??” Me: “yeah.” Girl: “I didn’t know that. You do it well.” Me not knowing what she meant: “Thanks! I try.”

I still don’t know what she meant. If it’s the blindness thing she was talking about. I wonder what she was expecting? I wanted to ask her that, but we moved on before I could. 🙂 Whatever she expected. I hope now she’ll expect more the next time she meets a blind person. Especially if it’s a student.

Thanks for reading!

I gotta have a print version too?

Apparently I do. I gotta have the print version of all of my textbooks before I can get the same textbooks in an accessible formatt that I can read. Why is this? Apparently it’s something to do with copyright laws, or something.

The short end of the story is that I’ve never had to order my own books. I just went to the college’s bookstore (when I attended classes on campus), and they helped me out. So, I’m completely lost. I have no clue what I’m doing. I still wish I didn’t have to buy print editions just to get one that I can read. That makes absolutely no sense to me. I can understand it if they have to scan it in, and create a P. D. F. or whatever. But getting those formatts from the publisher? I don’t understand the logic behind that one.

I guess I’ll keep trying until someone helps me out. I emailed the person in charge of the office of disabilities at my new college. So, we’ll see what happens. Now I’m going to go work on homework, and try not to think about giving myself a headache.

Thanks for reading!

Should I get print textbooks?

Since some colleges are going to start soon. I thought I would answer a question that I had before I started college. Should I get print books?

I was advised that I should. Just in case something was not readable in the text or audio version I happened to possess. It’s also important to point out that print might be the only available option.

I know that you may or may not like to bug others. Just to have a textbook read to you. Neither do I. However, if it means that I understand what the instructor is talking about the next day in class. Sure! I’ll do it. I hope this helps.

Thanks for reading!

So many forms to fill out.

*whew* who knew that there were so many forms to fill out for college? Also, why do they have to all be in print? Who has a fax machine?

I never thought I’d require someone to help me fill out forms for college. I mean, I did, but not this many. Also, why does everything got to be in print? Every single either has to be printed off, or faxed in. Ug! *I feel like screaming.*

Also, I never thought I’d need a fax machine. Who has one of those? Not me! Well I do, but I no longer use that particular printer. Mostly because it messed up. Plus, I don’t exactly have a phone line hookd up to it for the fax machine.

Yay for advisors to agree to help you. That’s all I have to say. They’re all amazing.

What about those P. D. F.s? Yeah, they sent me a form in the form of a P. D. F. I’m not complaining about that. I’m just not sure what to do when something says circle/or check the option you would like to choose. Again, thanks to awesome advisers.

I’m sorry for the boring post, but this is the best I could come up with. So, to summarize: 1. Make sure you have a printer that works when going to college. 2. Have a fax machine handy, or get aquanted with someone who does. 3. Be friendly to your adviser. They can help you out a grate deal. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Applying to college? My experience

I recently applied to complete my b/s in special education. I guess I didn’t realize how the admissions process works. So, I’m blogging about it for anyone who may be curious.

When I applied for my a/a in general education I had no clue about the applications process. I wasn’t exactly enthused about this college because it was actually the second one that I applied to. That being said, I don’t remember anything about the process.

My first worry about this application wa,s was it accessible? The answer, surprizingly was yes. All six pages of it. Which I completed.

Then, comes the waiting part. Was I excepted? I couldn’t wait to find out. What felt like forever had passed before I got the letter. However it was only a few days. I was excepted. *dances*

When my mom opened it she tried to tell me that I wasn’t excepted. Then, she said “April Fools!” I said: “This isn’t the time for jokes, and this isn’t April.” She thought that was funny.

Then came sending in my college transcript. I tried several times, but couldn’t get it to work. Finally today I figured out that the college was trying to charge me a fee. Note to all future college students. When requesting a college transcript keep plenty of money in the bank for this reason. Thank goodness I had the money. 🙂

Then, I had to switch my financial aid over. That turned out to be more accessible than I thought it was. All this time of having the previous college’s financial aid office help me. *sigh* Anyway, I got it all done, and I’m proud to say that I’m now a college student.

I’m still so excited to be a college student, and I can’t wait to continue my journey. If you’re a new college student see this link. I wish I’d had something around when I first started college. 🙂

Reflection of my Geography: Western world class

I have debated writing a blog about this. I think I’ve finally decided to do this. So, let’s have it. Here goes nothing!

I kind of liked this class. I went into it feeling really nervous. Because my friends had told me what to expect. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete the map project. (a series of maps that is part of your grade in that class.) I worried about how I was going to do the tests. I worried about whether or not the tests had maps, or pictures that needed to be described. All before the first day of class I should point out that this was an online class. I would have taken one in the classroom, but there wasn’t one available.

*first day of class* *takes the attendance quiz to let the instructor know that I was going to be participating in the class. So I wouldn’t be dropped* A few weeks later: *gets email about the test. *asks instructor through replies how I’m going to take the test Tells her that I’m blind.* *continues to look for the book in any other textbook format other than print. Wants to read it on my own.* Instructor: *responds that she wasn’t told that I would be joining her class, and that I was blind. Apologizes. Asks if there’s anything I need. How do I usually take my tests?* Me: * feels really bad for not emailing her on the first day, and letting her know about my disability. Tells her how I usually take my test.* Instructor: *says she’ll send the test over to where I usually take them.*

Test time: *bad weather hits. Causing the cancelation of all classes* A couple of weeks later just about: Me: *emails instructor to ask about test.* Instructor. *admits she forgot, and apologizes* Me: *eventually takes first test. Passes.*

Map project due: Me: *panics* How am I going to do this? Me: *emails instructor with problem.* Instructor: *admits when didn’t think about it, and that she’d work on it* I should point out here that I had a few weeks before it was due. Also, I was use to being in the presence of a teacher. So, it didn’t even occur to me to email her about my blindness.

My alternative for the map project when it finally comes in is going to be turned in a little later than everyone else’s it, but that’s alright. I have her permission to do this. She tried several ideas with the office of disabilities coordinator, but none of them worked out. Finally they just had to order a Braille atlas. It was in Grade one Braille. Someone please tell me that there’s a grade two world atlas floating out there somewhere?

Now, here’s where it gets complicated. Instead of working with the only employee at the school who knows Braille, or pulling in another blind student who may or may not know how to work the embosser in the music room. She prints out all of the labels. Now admittedly, the college employee only knows grade one Braille, but I’ll take, and be grateful for whatever I get.

Yeah. You heard that. She used print labels. The whole time I was finding whatever I was suppose to find. I was thinking: “What if I had no sighted help, and no way of getting it?” I’m sure that someone at the college would’ve helped me, but print labels? I want to do as much as possible by myself. *cries inside* I don’t even like having someone read a print book to me. unless I absolutely can’t find it in another format

In all though, it was a good class. The instructor was grate about working with me. I mean she even had alternatives set up in case I needed help. You know, just in case no one was around to help me. Which, was grate in itself.

Geo instructor! If for some reason, somehow you come across this. Please know that I appreciated you helping me. While I would’ve loved to read my own textbook, or complete the map project by myself. I understand that you can’t think of everything. I hope that by reading this, or by my being in your class. You’ve learned something about blind people that you didn’t know before, and will apply it to your next blind student. Because really, that’s why I do these reflections. So, that anyone who is in the field of teaching can learn from others, or my experiences.

Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading!

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